Sunday 25 July 2010

Movie Review: Anamorph (2007)

Semi-retired detective Stan Aubray (Willem Dafoe) is pushed back into service to solve a series of gruesome murders. The killings resemble the handiwork of a previous murderer that Aubray tracked and eliminated five years previously. Is it a case of copycat killings, or was the first case never properly solved?

A dense, dark and grim independent movie, Anamorph is interesting in patches but never too successful. The movie trumpets its set-piece murder-as-art scenes too loudly, and in-between, the attempts to get into the head of detective Aubray lead nowhere. We are left with slow and ponderous stretches that link one macabre display of body parts to another.

It should be an elemental rule of good mystery film-making that at some reasonable point, the person behind the killings should be introduced to the audience to create a character worth loathing or understanding. Anamorph skips this part, and we are left with a mostly faceless murderer with a bizarre but unexplained penchant for the artistic display of recently chopped up body parts.

Director Henry S. Miller goes for a bleak and foreboding mood and mostly achieves it. He is helped by Defoe, who does convince us that he is psychologically tortured. Both are let down by a script (Miller working with Tom Phelan) that stalls and offers little in the way of innovation beyond the creative display of murder victims.

It's one thing to entertain audiences with a busy canvass of murder; it would have been much more interesting for Anamorph to also delve into the psyche of the artist creating the mayhem.

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